Post submitted by Sula Malina, HRC Children, Youth and Families Program Coordinator
HRC recently sat down with Mimi Lemay, author and member of HRC Foundation’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council, to learn more about her family’s story. Lemay is an international advocate for transgender youth and the proud parent of a nine-year-old son, Jacob. She began her advocacy shortly after her son’s transition at an age of four, when an essay she wrote about the experience went viral.
The Lemay family was instrumental in the fight for the successful passage of an equal access public accommodations law in Massachusetts in 2016. Lemay’s memoir will be released in this fall, weaving her experiences growing up in, and ultimately leaving, her strict Ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, and her adult life parenting a trans child.
What inspired you to join HRC's Parents for Transgender Equality Council?
There are few forces in the world more powerful than parents whose protective instincts are awakened. The council has enabled me to fight alongside this country’s leading parent advocates and, with the expertise, experience and resources of HRC, there is nothing we cannot accomplish together.
What part of HRC's work do you connect with the most?
The gift of HRC is that HRC is fighting on every front and, through it all, uplifting the voices of individuals and powerfully shifting hearts and minds. It is through these stories that we are then able to demand change in our government’s laws and our boardrooms’ policies. The culmination of all this work is the Equality Act. The idea of comprehensive rights nationwide is simple, necessary and long overdue.
This March, we celebrate Trans Day of Visibility. What does visibility mean to your family?
I have come to believe that the human spirit cannot thrive in hiding. My husband Joe and I experienced this with our son. In the months before Jacob’s transition, we could feel him withdrawing from us. When we began to educate ourselves about what it meant to be transgender, we realized that we needed to allow Jacob to fully become the person he knew himself to be. The change in Jacob once he was affirmed was instantaneous. It was like someone had suddenly flipped on a light switch in a dark room -- and Jacob’s authentic self was blindingly beautiful. That is the power of visibility.
What's one message you have for transgender youth who may not have the support of their families, but may one day be out and visible?
It breaks my heart to know that there are thousands of LGBTQ youth that have to stifle the truest and deepest parts of themselves in order to survive in hostile environments. To them, my message is: your day will come -- you have not been forgotten. We will fight tooth and nail to change the world around you so that you can emerge as the valuable, precious, authentic individuals that you are.
HRC Foundation’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council is a coalition of some of the nation's leading parent-advocates working for equality and fairness for transgender people. To learn more about HRC Foundation's work with transgender youth and their families, visit our Children, Youth and Families Program.